wild on an island
The British Isles' many islands offer great opportunities
for wildlife watching in the summer months.
Our islands are often home
to a diverse selection of wildlife from wild flowers to marine life and rare birds.
Isle of Coll is a stunning sight in summer. Photo - Tony Oliver|
Here are two great nature activities which
you can take part on islands around the British Isles:
* Bird watching - track down Corncrakes.
islands are home to a diverse selection of plants so why not take a closer look?
locations for this activity featured on BBC Nature's Calendar include:
- rare plants thrive on the island due to the calcium rich sandy terrain.
* Lundy Island
- look out for the rare Lundy Cabbage, which is endemic to the island and has
never been found anywhere else in the world.
- the island is famous for its gorgeous carpets of summer flowers as a result
of its unique grassland landscape known as the machair.
- in spring Jersey has a profusion of flowers that make the island a sea of vivid
Other good locations for flowers are Uist
in the Hebrides and the South
Downs in Hampshire.
Flower safari tips
are our top tips on looking for and identifying rare wild flowers in island habitats.
is a good time to enjoy a feast of colour.
The best way to identify different plants is to feel their shape and texture.
But don't pick them!
* Don't pluck them out
of the ground - instead gently rub leaves between your finger and thumb.
Plants commonly found on islands will have adapted to the harsh, salty environment
- this is shown in their shiny, waxy leaves.
Most seaside and wetland plants flower during the summer, so look out for differences
in colours and petal shapes
* Binoculars aren't
just for bird-watching - turn them the other way around and use like a magnifying
glass, particularly on very small plants to get a close-up of leaf patterns and
other identifying features.
* A good identification
guide is always useful to help you identify exactly what you're looking at.
are secretive birds which are easier to hear than to spot.
to be relatively common birds across the British Isles, but now they survive in
only a few remote locations.
This secretive bird is extremely difficult
to see because of its skulking behaviour and due to its well camouflaged brown
colour and preference for long vegetation.
Amongst the best BBC Nature's
Calendar locations for Corncrake spotting is:
Isle of Coll
Other good places to see Corncrakes in Scotland
* Colonsay, Scotland
* North Uist
* Tiree, Scotland
* Balranald, Outer Hebrides
Onzieburst RSPB reserve, Orkney
We can also recommend:
Tory Island, Northern Ireland
* Bullock Island, Northern Ireland
Washes RSPB reserve, Cambridgeshire (reintroduction).
The Corncrake is best seen in late
spring and early summer before the grass grows too high.
This light brown bird tends to creep lowly through the grassland.
Keep your ears open
Listen for the Corncrake's crex crex call, a rasping
noise which resembles a squeaky gate. But remember, only the males make this sound.
* Choose promising locations - the majority
of these birds can be found on the west coast of Scotland especially on islands
such as Coll, Mull, Iona and Islay.
for the types of habitat where the Corncrake likes to lurk such as hay pastures
* If the birds are undisturbed,
they will sometimes appear in more open grassy areas - so watch patiently and
don't make any noise.
* Occasionally the male
birds will sit on a higher vantage point to call so keep your eyes open.
Corncrakes are found mainly on lowland areas - the birds favour tall grass which
provides excellent camouflage.
* Pick the correct season - the Corncrake
is a migrant which arrives from mid-April and stays until August or September.
photograph and plants of Coll courtesy and copy right of Tony Oliver and Coll
courtesy of Chris Packham.